There are some things in life that are so wrong that they are beautiful. One Day last week I was staying at home. It was a perfect day; the sun was out and the apple trees in the orchard were in their fall plumes. I decided to get some fresh air from my studying and went out to find my dogs a little on the crazy side. It was my fault I hadn’t ran them in a few days and their energy was a little through the roof.
So I sent them chasing a ball through the orchard – their favorite activity in life – but only one returned. It was Oscar: My fun, hyper-energetic, Black Lab/Great Dane mix that is in his mid-life crisis but doesn’t know it yet. He had retrieved the ball and was ready to do it again. But his return brought up a very important problem; where was Aloha? Aloha (a-lo-a, the “h” is silent) is my 2 year old Boxer/Pit Bull/Viszla mix who I have to constantly worry about what kind of trouble she is going to make for me, and she was still out in the orchard.
I looked around and spotted her. She was slowly circling something below one of the apple trees. As she crept around, she would pause, lower her head, then jump, regain her composure that start circling again. I watched this go on for a couple of minutes and then decided I would see what she was interrogating. Walking towards her I brainstormed what it might be; Gardner snakes were really common out here but a snake would have tried to get away and then Aloha would have grab and brought it to me to be congratulated on her catch, it could be a field mouse coming up and down out of it hole but then Aloha would have tried to dig after it, it could be a mole – normally something that she would have gone after right away but the last time she did the mole bit her lower lip and didn’t let go – a very funny sight but one she wouldn’t have wanted to repeat, or it could be something dead. Something dead was my worst fear.
As I walked up to the scene I knew what it was immediately. A possum. Dead or alive, I had no idea but undeniably the ugliest creature God ever made. The last time I encountered a possum I almost soiled myself. I came upon it unexpectedly and instead of playing dead, it snarled at me – showing me its disgusting, and intimidating, set of teeth. So this time I kept my distance.
I stared as intently as Aloha. And then, right when I started feeling comfortable that it was dead, it breathed. And what do you think I did? Well I jumped, may have screamed, and ended up 5 feet farther back then when I had been. I don’t know why I was so surprised; it was just a possum playing possum, but I reacted like I saw Emily Rose hanging off the ceiling.
Well, a breathing possum only leaves one conclusion to the question what do I do with it? So I went to the garage and grabbed “The Varmint Killer”: A device that every farm and ranch have. Our farm has 2 or 3, but the one I chose was a simple, but very elegant, break action shotgun in the caliber of 410 (pronounced four-ten). I grabbed a few shells (just incase) and headed back out into the orchard. Aloha was still at it; circling, pausing, lowering her head, then jumping back.
Once I got with in ten or fifteen feet of it I called Aloha back to me. By this time Oscar was feeling a little left out and had come to see what all the fuss was about. I knew he wasn’t going to like what was about to happen but it would be good for him.
The dogs were finally behind me. I raised my instrument of death and put the bead of the barrel to the head of the possum. My finger starts to squeeze. I am a poor marksman; I close my eyes before the trigger is fully pulled. Crack! My eyes immediately open. The “Varmint Killer” truly lived up to its name and I smiled.
This is a reaction I couldn’t control. It was really a disgusting sight; the recent possum was still moving on the ground… Well you don’t need to know the rest. I think the reaction was a primal instinct that man has power and loves powerful instruments. Whether its knives, clubs, or in this case guns, they all have a special place in the heart of man (I know this is a stereotype an there are exceptions). On the other hand I think that I had a feeling of accomplishment from my paternal instincts. In our family, my wife and I don’t have children. So our dogs fill some of those needs. They are like children you can leave alone for twelve hours at a time and kick out of the house when they frustrate you. Anyways when it comes to a rodent that could give my dogs rabies or a dead rodent, I will choose a dead rodent.
The day was perfect; sunny and cool. I shot a possum. Oh, and I was in my slippers.